UN human rights office renews call on Syria to end brutal crackdown

23 September 2011

The United Nations human rights office today once again urged Syrian authorities to end their brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters and allow for an independent and impartial investigation of the situation in the country.

“We are extremely alarmed by ongoing reports of the increasingly brutal crackdown by Syrian authorities against protestors in Syria,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Ms. Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva that prominent human rights defenders, inside and outside the country, are reported to have been targeted. The Office is also concerned by reports of the targeting and attacking of families and sympathizers of the protestors by security forces.

In one recent “appalling” case, the mutilated body of Zeinab al-Hosni, an 18-year-old woman from Homs who had been tortured and died in custody, was discovered by her family on 13 September.

“We have received unconfirmed reports that she had been abducted by members of the security forces on 27 July, apparently to pressure her activist brother to turn himself in,” said Ms. Shamdasani.

“We once again urge the Syrian authorities to end their brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators, end their acts of reprisal against activists and their families, and allow for an independent and impartial investigation of the situation in Syria,” she added.

At least 2,600 people have been killed in Syria since March, when the pro-democracy protests – part of a wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa – began.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has ordered a commission of inquiry into the violence after an OHCHR fact-finding mission outlined a litany of Government abuses ranging from murder, enforced disappearances, deprivation of liberty and the torture even of children to an apparent “shoot-to-kill” policy against protesters with snipers posted on rooftops.

The Office said today that it is critical that the Security Council consider referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the independent, permanent tribunal set up to prosecute individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.


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